Historic McDowell House

Updated: April 2019


A Piece of History

Located in Morganton NC circa 2.5 miles (4 km) from downtown, the Historic McDowell House in Quaker Meadows is considered the oldest brick house in Burke County.

The four-bay, two-story brick home, which was built by Charles McDowell, Jr. in 1812, has a façade made of Flemish Bond Brickwork.

The term Flemish Bond describes a bricklaying technique, where alternate bricks are placed as header and stretcher in every course, which creates a bond of high strength and appealing aesthetics but challenging to lay as it requires great attention to detail.

The Historic McDowell House, which has been meticulously restored to its Federal style appearance of 1812, portrays life on a 1,500-acre plantation in the early to mid-1800s, before the American Civil War (1861-1865).

Quaker Meadows, a name derived from a Quaker, who camped on these grassy lands and traded fur with the Native Americans presumably in the early 1700s, is also associated with Colonel Charles McDowell, a Revolutionary War leader and father of Charles McDowell, Jr. (1785-1859).


The  Historic McDowell House  is a beautifully restored plantation home from 1812 and the oldest brick home in Burke County. Today a museum, the  Historic McDowell House  has been meticulously restored to its Federal style appearance of 1812. It portrays life on a 1,500-acre plantation in the early to mid 1800s, before the American Civil War (1861-1865).

The Historic McDowell House is a beautifully restored plantation home from 1812 and the oldest brick home in Burke County. Today a museum, the Historic McDowell House has been meticulously restored to its Federal style appearance of 1812. It portrays life on a 1,500-acre plantation in the early to mid 1800s, before the American Civil War (1861-1865).

It is said that in 1780 on these grounds Charles McDowell’s father and other Patriot soldiers made plans, which led to the victory over the British in the Battle of Kings Mountain during the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783). A small vegetable garden is located behind the house.

It is said that in 1780 on these grounds Charles McDowell’s father and other Patriot soldiers made plans, which led to the victory over the British in the Battle of Kings Mountain during the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783). A small vegetable garden is located behind the house.


Colonel Charles McDowell (1743-1815)

During the American Civil War in 1780, Colonel Charles McDowell’s militia together with Overmountain Men engaged in guerilla warfare, harassing British and Loyalist forces under the command of British Major Patrick Ferguson (1744-1780) at every possible occasion, leading to the Battle of Kings Mountain on October 7, 1780.

Although Colonel Charles McDowell did not participate in the battle, he is credited with developing the plans, which led to the surprise victory over Ferguson’s men and tremendously improved the morale of the Patriots. Patrick Ferguson’s death in the battle is said to have contributed to General Charles Cornwallis (1738-1805) decision to abandon his plan to invade North Carolina and to retreat to South Carolina. Subsequently, British forces, which had occupied Charlotte for 16 days, left on October 12, 1780.

Every September, the Overmountain Victory Trail re-enactors meet at the Historic McDowell House to commemorate the gathering of Colonel Charles McDowell and other Patriot soldiers, which was held under a giant oak tree in Quaker Meadows in September 1780. Also known as the Council Oak, it was there where they devised the plans, which led to the victory in the Battle of Kings Mountain. Colonel Charles McDowell’s house no longer exists.


Charles McDowell, Jr. (1785-1859)

In 1812, in anticipation of his marriage to his cousin Anna McDowell of Pleasant Gardens in September 1813, Charles McDowell, Jr. built this stately home. After his father’s death in 1815, he inherited the plantation. The family included the couple’s own six children and three orphaned relatives. One of the orphaned relatives was Charles McDowell’s nice, Harriet N. Espy (1832-1878), who in 1853 married Zebulon Baird Vance (1830-1894) in this house.

Zebulon Vance was born in a simple log mountain cabin near present-day Weaverville NC (→ Vance Birthplace). He later became Governor of North Carolina and served in the United States Senate. In 1896, two years after his death, an obelisk in his honor was erected at Pack Square Park in Asheville (Vance Memorial).



119 Staint Mary’s Church Road, Morganton, NC 28655
Tel.: → (828) 437-4104

 
 
 

Sun.: 2pm to 4pm.

Or by appointment with 2 weeks notice.


April to October.


$5 donations are appreciated.


Free on-premise parking.


The Historic McDowell House is not accessible by wheelchair.